Still No Need to Rush to Academisation
Sadly, although the rate of academy conversion still remains low in Leicester, one or two schools have decided to seek a sponsor now, rather than be forced at some later date into having to accept a sponsor against their will. So, 1st January saw Forest Lodge Primary School voluntarily join a Nottingham-based Multi Academy Trust, and Overdale Junior School and Overdale Infant Schools look set to join a Leicestershire-based MAT early in the Summer term. Did they need to opt to become academies? Need school governors be worried about forced academisation? Leicester NUT says no.
'Coasting' Schools Yet To Be Academised
No schools have been turned into academies as a result of being branded as
coasting by the Government, according to a TES report. The 2015 Conservative Party manifesto pledged to
turn every failing and coasting secondary school into an academy, and the new category of
coasting school was given legal force by last year's Education and Adoption Act.
The DfE sets out six options for RSCs intervening in schools identified as coasting: take no further action; provide
some additional support and challenge; require a maintained school to take specific action; appoint additional governors or an interim executive board; convert it into a sponsored academy, or issue a termination warning notice to an academy.
However, according to DfE data released under the Freedom of Information Act, none of the almost 500 maintained schools that were defined as coasting following last summer's key stage 2 and 4 results have been turned into academies as a result.
Of the 756 schools and academies that were branded as
coasting and have not since closed, more than half (51%) were told no further action was needed, and 49% were told they needed some extra support.
In only one case did RSCs use any of their other powers: a termination warning notice was issued to the Basildon Upper Academy.
A DfE spokesperson said that
RSCs have been working closely with schools that met the coasting definition in January 2017 to ensure that support is available to secure improvements, and that the data demonstrates
the hard work that RSCs are already doing to support many of these schools.
However, while the
coasting label does not automatically result in academisation in the same way that an
inadequate Ofsted judgement does, it is likely that the figures also reflect the fact that the DfE is struggling to find enough sponsors for new academies, even for the schools that are legally required to convert. In October it was revealed that more than a quarter of these schools were still without a sponsor twelve months after a directive academy order was issued.